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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Falun Gong Founder Awarded for 'Outstanding Spiritual Leadership'

NTDTV: 2009-10-6 10:15

The Asia-Pacific Human Rights Foundation gives annual awards to individuals who are making a difference. On September 26, they gave a special award to the founder of Falun Gong. Albert Roman in Los Angeles has the story.

A packed ballroom of over 200 human rights defenders and supporters joined the Asia-Pacific Human Rights Foundation awards ceremony to acknowledge the efforts of nine individuals Saturday evening. Among them was Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of the Falun Gong spiritual practice.

Eight of the awards were given for outstanding work in the field of human rights. Among the recipients was Christian Pastor Eddie Romero, who was arrested in China in 2008 during the Olympics for protesting the Chinese regime’s human rights abuses. Dr. Yang Jianli, a Harvard Fellow and 2005 award recipient, also attended the event. Dr. Yang had been jailed for 5 years for helping Chinese labor unions employ non-violent strategies to advocate for their rights.

The award for “Outstanding Spiritual Leadership” was given to Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong. Last year’s recipient was the Dalai Lama.

Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, is a practice that includes exercises, meditation, and a moral discipline based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance.

In 1999, China’s communist ruler Jiang Zemin launched a campaign to persecute Falun Gong practitioners, sending tens of thousands to labor camps. Amnesty International notes that Falun Gong is among the most severely persecuted groups in China.

The Asia-Pacific Human Rights Foundation found it noteworthy that throughout these past 10 years, Falun Gong practitioners have maintained a strictly peaceful approach to ending the persecution.

Youfu Li, chairman of the U.S. Southwestern Falun Dafa Association, accepted the award on Mr. Li Hongzhi’s behalf.

[Youfu Li, US Southwestern Falun Dafa Association]:
Youfu Li said, “Mr. Li Hongzhi taught the principles of truthfulness, compassion, tolerance around the world. He helped improved people’s morality. Over the past 10 years the Communist Party has persecuted many people. Falun Gong practitioners have used compassion to expose the Chinese Communist Party.”

Christian Pastor Eddie Romero had this to say about Mr. Li Hongzhi’s award:

[Pastor Eddie Romero]:
“I’m excited to be able to stand there and also to receive along with the Falun Gong leader the awards, because again, we’re standing on the same side of this issue, and to me, it’s important that we stand shoulder to shoulder on this issue and not become fractured over it because I’m not a Falun Gong member and I know he’s not a Christian, but we share this together because we’re sisters and brothers whether they’re Falun Gong or House Christians.”

Labor union advocate Dr. Yang Jianli also commented on the award.

[Dr. Yang Jianli, President of Initiatives for China]:
“I’m glad to learn that Mr. Li Hongzhi won this award, and I think he deserves this award. In the past 10 years, Falun Gong represents the most persecuted group in China. In this sense, I think Mr. Li deserves this award.”

The ceremony Saturday evening was a chance for individuals, human rights organizations, and Christian groups to unite, share ideas, and encourage each other to continue their pursuit of freedom for the Chinese people.

Albert Roman, NTD News, Los Angeles.

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